Education is key to unlocking women’s leadership potential
By Rading Biko | March 7th 2021
Two decades ago, women in Africa had reasons to expect change following a much-heralded 1995 Beijing Declaration – a global conference that set ambitious targets to transform the lives of women across the world.
Global leaders universally adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for the empowerment of women and girls.
It is now 21 years since global leaders committed to uplifting the status of women around the world, yet much is to be achieved for African women especially in a leadership position within the continent.
Perhaps as the continent joins the rest of the globe in marking this year’s International Women’s Day under the theme – ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world’, it is time for the African states to fully implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action that advocates for gender equality as well as empowerment of women and girls.
Last year Kenya’s President did reveal that his government is on the right track in the delivery of the Beijing Declaration.
In a recorded video statement, President Uhuru said the Beijing Platform for Action remains a powerful source of inspiration in the advancement of the rights of women and girls.
“Gender equality remains central to the development agenda of my administration as is indeed enshrined in our Constitution of Kenya,” he added.
Nevertheless, in Sinai slum just a few kilometres away from the capital, lies a community school where young girls are nurtured for future leadership positions in Kenya.
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Lilian Wamuyu, Director, Gender and Child Empowerment at Bridge International Academies, did reveal the value of education in leadership.
“We cannot achieve the best out of the girls if the environment they are studying is not safe and that’s why as a learning institution we not only offer education to the less privileged in the society, but we have also initiated a programme known as ‘Super mama Initiative ‘that aims at empowering our young girls especially in the slums where we operate with leadership skills like self-esteem, “comments Lilian.
She argues that in order for Kenyan women to scale high in a leadership position, they must be nurtured and mentored from early ages.
“As a country, we are on track in promoting the gender rule but the problem is that we are not putting mechanism that will foster the growth of women leadership at a tender age, it’s time we mentor our girls right from primary level in order to prepare them for a future leadership position. With our ‘Super Mama Initiative, we work with women in the communities to help empower the young girls and this has really impacted the young girls’ education performance,” insists Lilian.
Clare Moraa is a 14-year old pupil at Bridge International Academies-Sinai slum. She is one young girl with a big dream.
“ It’s true we are marginalized because we live in the slum but with education, we shall have the same level playing field since with education I will be empowered to fully realize my potential. I would like to be a banker once I am through with my education, this will enable me to help those women and young girls from less privileged in the society, “says Clare.
She reveals that in order for women to achieve the top leadership in the world, education plays a critical role in sharpening their journey towards leadership.
Clare says, “Education empower women to understand their rights and with this, they fully explore their potentials which drive them to go for a higher position in the society.”
In most informal settlements within Nairobi and beyond, women suffer discrimination from their male counterpart. They endure both emotional and physical abuse. A sentiment Clare conquers with.
“With education and equal opportunities, we can transform this country into a better society. I thank God that with institutions like Bridge International Academies that offer education to marginalized people like us, I can now be assured of a better tomorrow that will position me to a leadership position,” concludes Clare.
Idah Kwamboka is also a pupil in the same institution. Aged 14 years and in class seven, she dreams of becoming the first female president in Kenya.
“My ambition to become the first female president of Kenya has been inspired by former President of the Republic of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She became the first African democratically elected president and I believe that her good education played a critical role in nurturing her into the country’s leadership,” comments Idah.
The UN data shows that globally women are at the forefront of the battle against Covid-19, as front-line and health sector workers, as scientists, doctors and caregivers, yet they get paid 11 per cent less than their male counterparts.
A thing that Lilian Wamuyu said should be addressed through leadership structure.
Lilian says “There is a huge difference when it comes to remunerations towards women and I think this is because of leadership bottlenecks. Its time as a country we implement the Gender Rule so as to ensure we have the same level as our male counterpart. In all our schools across we teach our pupils both boys and girls that we are all equal and we can all achieve the best when we work together.”
Vincent Mindah is a teacher at the school; he believes that societal barriers still continues to hinder the progress of women in Kenya.
“Personally, I believe that with the education our women can transform our country. It’s time we elect a female President. Since independence we have had male Presidents, why don’t we try a woman and see what she can do? Let us not judge them without an opportunity offered to them, “adds Mindah.
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